Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Rituals: Overview of the Hammam Line


The word hammam means ‘spreader of warmth’ in Arabic. Hammams are traditional bathhouses found commonly in Turkey, Morocco and other countries in North Africa and in the Middle East. Though evolved in size and form over the centuries, they are essentially descendants of the Roman baths. Hammams were extremely popular in the Ottoman Empire during which they formed an integral part of everyday life. A hammam was not just a place where one could perform ritual ablution – to cleanse both body and mind – but it was also a place for social gatherings. Although hammams’ glory days have passed, the hammams of today do still attract loyal patronage.....and the odd tourist.

Traditional hammams are single-sex domains, so hammam complexes have either separate quarters for men and women or separate opening hours for each gender. The women who visit hammams usually make such outings a full-day affair. They bring along their children. They bring food and entertainment and take the opportunity to gossip and socialise with other women there.

A hammam experience may vary from one bathhouse to another. Generally, they involve seasoning the body with heat in a harara – ‘hot room’ – followed by a massage and a vigorous scrub (to the point of peeling off old skin to reveal the new layer!), then washing off the dirt and dead skin cells with soap and water, and finally relaxing with a cup of tea. The hammam experience for women may also begin with, for example, a henna clay mud treatment that is left on and then rinsed off. This is followed by a good scrub with a mitt in a steamroom and another rinsing. The next step is bathing with an olive oil soap and finally a massage. So, there seems to be no hard and fast rules for this but the basic elements of a hammam experience include bathing, steaming, scrubbing, massaging, possibly a mud treatment and then rinsing off. Not all are compulsory though as one can even opt for just a bath!

What I now know about hammams is gleaned from my own little research. I wish I was speaking from my own authentic Turkish Hammam experience (by that, I mean the real deal, not a hammam experience in some swanky hotel spa). Alas, the names Turkey and Morocco are still waiting to be crossed out on my ‘Countries to Visit Before I Die’ list. So, it's a good thing that Rituals was inspired to develop the Hammam line. Most of us may never have the chance to experience the real Hammam ritual, so why not bring the hammam experience into the home? It’s a compromise that I can live with. For now.

For this line, Rituals offers a total of seven Hammam products: two for hair care and five for body care. The two hair care products are a shampoo and a conditioner. The Hammam body care products are:

L-R:
Hammam Olive Secret
Hammam Hot Scrub
Hammam Delight
Hammam Body Mud
Touch of Hammam

Each of these five products represents a step in the Hammam ritual as recommended by Rituals. The five steps to follow in order to enjoy the Hammam experience at home are:

Step 1: Cleanse the body with Hammam Olive Secret which contains eucalyptus and pure olive. The olive cream helps prepare the skin for a good scrubbing. Rinse off.

Step 2: Scrub the body with Hammam Hot Scrub. The nourishing oils and pure sea salt that it contains helps to exfoliate the skin, leaving the skin feeling super soft.

Step 3: Shower with Hammam Delight to wash away the dirt and symbolically, also all your worries. Experience the fresh sensation of eucalyptus and rosemary.

Step 4: Wrap the body with Hammam Body Mud. It is a nourishing mask containing pure Chinese clay and eucalyptus. Leave on for at least two minutes and then rinse off under the shower or soak off in a relaxing bath.

Step 5: Apply Touch of Hammam. This ultra-rich body cream made with rice milk provides nourishment for the skin while the scent of fresh figs leaves the body smelling lovely for many hours. This, says Rituals, is the finishing touch.

You might remember a post I did on Rituals a few weeks ago in which I mentioned purchasing a giftbox called Your Mini Hammam. I was quite confused at first as to how Your Mini Hammam fits into the aforementioned grand five-step Hammam ritual. After a closer study, I am now able to put this into proper context.

Your Mini Hammam is composed of three of the five Hammam products in mini sizes (70ml) plus a scrub glove. The three products are Hammam Olive Secret (the body cleanser of Step 1), Hammam Body Mud (the body mask of Step 4) and Touch of Hammam (the body cream of Step 5).


At first glance, it seems that Steps 2 and 3 are left out. However, the box does come with a scrub glove and so, the recommended steps are:

Step 1: Cleanse the body with Hammam Olive Secret and rinse off.

Step 2: Use the scrub glove to scrub the body (in a sense, replacing the Hammam Hot Scrub).

Step 3: Wrap the body with Hammam Body Mud. Leave on for at least two minutes, then rinse off under the shower or soak off in a relaxing bath.

Step 4: Apply Touch of Hammam.

Essentially, only Step 3 (showering with Hammam Delight) is excluded without adversely affecting the whole ritual. The body is after all cleansed in Step 1.

I did think it odd at first that they didn’t just replicate the full five-step Hammam ritual for this giftbox. Personally, I would have preferred that Rituals put together a Hammam giftbox containing ALL five of the Hammam body care products in mini sizes. It would have been so much easier to understand, but all right, Your Mini Hammam is meant to be a shortened version of the whole shebang, hence the word ‘mini’, eh? It would make a great gift, I'd have to say, and it’s great for those interested to have a taste of the Hammam ritual before going full-size.

My review of the five Hammam body care products will be following shortly (after which I'll take a short break from writing about Rituals, as I do have other things to write about!). Because this Hammam ritual seems complicated to the uninitiated (I’m obviously speaking from experience), I just thought it better to write this post first to explain the ‘intricacies’ of Rituals' Hammam ritual.

For readers in the UK who might be interested in the Hammam line, Rituals is coincindentally having a Hammam promotion this month. Check it out here. I believe its webshop is having a slightly different Hammam promotion though. Anyway, I took advantage of a similar promotion here in the Netherlands. I bought a few of the full-sized Hammam products last week and got a free bottle of Hammam shampoo too.

You must think I’ve gone Hammam-mad!

9 comments:

Natgn said...

Wow you did a FANTASTIC job at explaining the whole shebang. I'd like to say I learned something interesting today. Thanks for sharing!

Rosamond said...

Hi Gorgeous--WOW This is so interesting!! Thanx for posting this. I didn't know such a thing existed.

BTW Your blog is beautiful and sophisticated.

<3 <3

Moggalicious said...

I've nominated you for an award! x

witoxicity said...

@Natgn
I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. As for me, it's been a real pleasure researching and writing it.

@Rosamond
Thank you for your lovely comments on the post and the blog! I'm still trudging my way through Bloggers' technical mod-cons and that's my excuse for keeping my blog simple. :D

@Moggalicious
Thank you very much for the nomination and your very kind words! It means a lot to me. Where's the tissue.....?

Lorla said...

Wow! Such fascinating and unique products. Thanks for such a thorough article on this line.

p.s. I tagged you to do six random facts:)

Natalie Nguyen said...

Hey.. maybe I will use one of those dishes for makeup! LOL why didn't I think of that?!

Jennnn said...

thanks for the indepth knowledge. I learned a lot just by reading your posts! just curious, what sparked you to research it?

witoxicity said...

@Lorla
I'm happy to know that you found the post informative. I tried to be as thorough as I could but, even then, I'm still not done yet. Ha ha! There's still one more post for the Hammam line - the review - which is coming up very soon.

Gosh, my first ever tag! Thank you! Let me chew on this and I'll make a post on it soon. :)

@Natalie Nguyen
It's great that you like my idea! :D

@Jennnn
You're most welcome! It's always good to know that some people are able to take away new knowledge from reading my blog.

I'm no expert but I love to do research and it's done simply out of pure interest and curiousity. Since I was already doing so much reading to understand the background of the products, I thought I might as well summarise what I learned in a post and share it with my readers! That way, my readers can better appreciate a brand, a product or whatever else! :)

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